Making things well is hard. It's particularly hard when you want to do it ethically, sustainably and affordably.
When we started Bear we set out to use all recycled or eco-friendly materials. We thought “surely these kind of materials are now widely available”. How wrong we were. As far as we can tell these materials are only available to the big players in the industry. Through discussions we have had with textile industry professionals, we have come to understand that many of the eco materials currently available, won’t stand the test of time.
So we had to revise our plan. We decided to make products that were made in Britain (low air miles), would last a lifetime (arguably the most sustainable way to make something), and that could be sold back to us and made into something new (otherwise known as circular). This approach has allowed us to balance sustainability and performance.
Exterior - Waxed Canvas.
Our waxed canvas is made in Scotland by Halley Stevenson’s. They have been making the best waxed canvas in the world since 1864. Waxed cotton canvas is the original performance fabric. Whilst many modern materials delaminate and become redundant, waxed cotton is easily maintained and can last a very long time. The wax that is used is a bi-product of the oil industry, and unlike PFC’s (the nasty chemicals added to most modern waterproof materials), the wax is biodegradable and won’t poison the planet.
All the cotton used by Halley Stevenson’s is sustainably sourced with the help of organisations like the Organic Content Standard and the Better Cotton Initiative.
They use low impact dying methods and the waxes are simply heated up to apply and cooled down to store, this means they use a very low amount of water and do not discharge any chemicals into the environment.
We currently use an industry standard PU coated waterproof nylon lining material. We source it from a U.K. based company, who produce it in Taiwan. It does the job we want it to do really well. We are constantly trying to find an eco-friendly, affordable, and long lasting alternative.
The buckles on our bags are made in Austria by AustriAlpin. They are well know for making some of the worlds best buckles, and their Cobra buckles (the ones we use) are the worlds strongest. They are awesome.
The rest of our metal fittings are sourced from China. Whilst not being ideal, we simply are not able to meet the minimum order requirements to produce them locally and affordably. We are not far from being able to do it though.
From a country known for making the worlds best precision instruments comes the world best zips. Our main zipping materials are made by Riri in Switzerland. These zippers are weatherproof, super hard wearing, and look great. We currently use these zips on some of our bags, soon we will use these zippers for all the external zippers on our bags. Our internal zippers (and some external ones) currently come from a company in China, they are excellent quality and highly weatherproof, however, once we have used up our current supply, all our zippers will come from Riri in Switzerland.
Our cotton webbing is made in Sheffield, England. It’s soft, strong, and durable.
To avoid wasting paper we don’t add any packaging or labels to our products. All our postal boxes are recyclable and our postal bags are bio-degradable.
Our Products are Circular.
Although we make our products to last a lifetime, we know not everyone wants to keep something that long, and let’s be totally honest, your bag isn’t going to look the same 20 years from now. We love the worn look, but get that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. What we really don’t want, is any of our products ending up in the back of the closet, or worse, the bin. With this in mind every product we make can be sold back to us. We then make your old bag into something shiny and new. Simple.
We are constantly trying to improve our footprint as a brand and as people. If you have any thoughts on how we can do this, please get in-touch.